The Faithless Hawk (The Merciful Crow, #2) – Margaret Owen [ARC Review]

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Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️


Kings become outcasts and lovers become foes in The Faithless Hawk, the thrilling sequel to Margaret Owen’s The Merciful Crow.

As the new chieftain of the Crows, Fie knows better than to expect a royal to keep his word. Still she’s hopeful that Prince Jasimir will fulfill his oath to protect her fellow Crows. But then black smoke fills the sky, signaling the death of King Surimir and the beginning of Queen Rhusana’s merciless bid for the throne.

With the witch queen using the deadly plague to unite the nation of Sabor against Crows—and add numbers to her monstrous army—Fie and her band are forced to go into hiding, leaving the country to be ravaged by the plague. However, they’re all running out of time before the Crows starve in exile and Sabor is lost forever.

A desperate Fie calls on old allies to help take Rhusana down from within her own walls. But inside the royal palace, the only difference between a conqueror and a thief is an army. To survive, Fie must unravel not only Rhusana’s plot, but ancient secrets of the Crows—secrets that could save her people, or set the world ablaze.


Huge thank you to Fierce Reads for providing this advanced readers copy of The Faithless Hawk! I was able to pick up this advanced copy at the Fierce Reads booth at C2E2 (Chicago Comic Con) this year! Fierce Reads was giving away The Faithless Hawk advanced copies if you purchased a copy of the first book. Did I already have two copies of The Merciful Crow!? Yep! Did that stop me from buying a third!? Not at all!! So now I’m the proud owner of three copies of The Merciful Crow and I have no regrets.

The Merciful Crow by Margaret Owen was one of my absolute favorite books from last year! From the world building to the caste hierarchy and the incredible magic system . . . The Merciful Crow is such a fun, action-packed, and unique story. The story ended with a big cliffhanger and I have been dying to know where the story would go next. I am happy to say that The Faithless Hawk did not disappoint!

I love the world that Margaret Owen has created. Everything is built and developed so well. This is especially true for the castes and magic system. This story takes place in the world made up of twelve castes, with each represented by a different bird. These castes were founded by thousands of gods who created the castes in their image and gifted each with a birthright (power). All of the castes have a birthright (fire, stealth, etc.) except for the Crows. There are also witches (who have stronger powers) born within each caste. The top caste is the Phoenixes, who make up the royalty and rule this world. The lowest caste is the Crows. They have no birthright and are universally looked down upon. They are abused, hated, and discriminated against. The treatment of the Crows is appalling. However, the castes rely on the Crows for a very important purpose . . . the Crows are the only ones immune to the Sinner’s Plague. The Sinner’s Plague is a horrible disease, highly contagious, and is fatal to anyone who contracts it. In order to stop the spread of the disease, any time someone contracts the Plague, the Crows are summoned to deliver mercy killings and to burn the bodies. This is why they are known as “The Merciful Crows.” Our lead, Fie, is a Crow chief and a Bone Thief witch. This means she can draw power from bones and teeth. For example: Sparrows have the birthright to hide in plain sight. Fie often calls upon Sparrow teeth to hide from enemies. I am just so fascinated by the incredible world and magic system that Owen has created!

My favorite part of The Faithless Hawk is the vivid imagery. Margaret Owen is able to create such stunning scenes that I can truly see in my mind. I especially love the scenes inside the palace. Everything is so gorgeous! Some of the imagery was so eerie! The skin ghasts and the effects of the Sinner’s Plague are so dang creepy! Owen is just so good at building the scenes.

I also loved how much Fie has grown throughout these two books. She has matured and become so much less selfish. This all happened naturally too. It wasn’t immediate or rushed at all.

Lastly, I loved all the espionage that takes place in The Faithless Hawk! There is so much spying, manipulation, and sneaking! Especially in all the palace scenes! It was so exciting and I couldn’t get enough of these parts!

The only reason I took off a star is the pacing. It was very on and off. There were lulls that seemed to drag, but then super exciting parts that were very fast paced! It was a mixed bag, but I overall really enjoyed The Faithless Hawk.

The Faithless Hawk by Margaret Owen is set to be released August 18th, 2020 by Henry Holt and Co.

We Hunt the Flame (Sands of Arawiya, #1) – Hafsah Faizal (Advanced Reader Copy)


Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️


Set in a richly detailed world inspired by ancient Arabia, Hafsah Faizal’s We Hunt the Flame–first in the Sands of Arawiya series–is a gripping debut of discovery, conquering fear, and taking identity into your own hands.

People lived because she killed. People died because he lived.

Zafira is the Hunter, disguising herself as a man when she braves the cursed forest of the Arz to feed her people. Nasir is the Prince of Death, assassinating those foolish enough to defy his autocratic father, the sultan. If Zafira was exposed as a girl, all of her achievements would be rejected; if Nasir displayed his compassion, his father would punish him in the most brutal of ways. Both Zafira and Nasir are legends in the kingdom of Arawiya―but neither wants to be.

War is brewing, and the Arz sweeps closer with each passing day, engulfing the land in shadow. When Zafira embarks on a quest to uncover a lost artifact that can restore magic to her suffering world and stop the Arz, Nasir is sent by the sultan on a similar mission: retrieve the artifact and kill the Hunter. But an ancient evil stirs as their journey unfolds―and the prize they seek may pose a threat greater than either can imagine.


I was super fortunate to receive an advanced reader copy of We Hunt the Flame by Hafsah Faizal from Fierce Reads at C2E2! HUGE thank you to Fierce Reads for this amazing arc!


First I have to mention the absolutely gorgeous arc cover of We Hunt the Flame. I love the official release cover, but look at how stunning the arc edition is! I love it so much!

Much like the cover, We Hunt the Flame is a gorgeous masterpiece! We Hunt the Flame is an incredible debut from Hafsah Faizal. I loved everything about this story and I can’t wait to read more from her.

We Hunt the Flame is an epic fantasy adventure full of political intrigue, mystery, a slow-burn romance, and bad ass feminism. It is set in a beautifully created world and narrated by two main characters, Zafira “The Huntress” and Nasir “The Prince of Death.” Both leads are written so well — they each have a history and backstory that shows the reader how they have become the Huntress and the Prince of Death. Faizal was able to do this without information dumping! Zafira and Nasir both experience huge growth and development throughout their journey. They both must confront their emotions, past traumas, and inner demons. The journey changes both for the better which brings them closer. I liked that the change wasn’t immediate or easy. Zafira and Nasir truly had to go on a journey – both physically and emotionally. Side note – the cast of side characters was also so good! Each character was very well done and added to the story.

The story takes place in the world of Arawiya. There is a ton of history and culture in this world, but as I said earlier, it felt natural and not like information dumping. Arawiya is a nation made up of five caliphates (or states). Magic has disappeared from Arawiya and left a curse throughout the land, including the forest of darkness known as the Arz and the island of Sharr. Although it is a place, Sharr was a character on its own. It was all encompassing and had its own personality and desires. I haven’t read a lot of books where the setting/world is an actual character. It really elevated the story and showed how talented Faizal’s writing is.

I can’t get over the writing of We Hunt the Flame. Hafsah Faizal is able to create lyrical, poetic, and enchanting words that flow perfectly together to craft a wholly original story. Faizal’s beautiful writing is incredibly lush and descriptive. This world and setting is super detailed and intricate, but still completely captivating. The intense detail didn’t seem overwhelming and actually added to the beautiful setting. I truly saw the world that Faizal created. I was on the journey with Zafira and Nasir.

My ONLY complaint/suggestion is that a glossary would be nice. I did need to pause to look up some of the Arabic words in order to better understand some scenes.

I can’t say enough good things about We Hunt the Flame. I feel like a lot of YA fantasy blends together lately, but not Hafsah Faizal’s masterpiece. We Hunt the Flame starts off a bit slower, but kept me pulled in the entire time. The ending is full of reveals, twists, and cliffhangers. I cannot wait for the rest of the series!

We Hunt the Flame will be released on May 14th. Fun fact – that’s my birthday! You should all preorder We Hunt the Flame as a birthday present to me 🥳😝

PS: Did you submit your preorder receipt for We Hunt the Flame?! You can receive 5 gorgeous limited edition character cards if you submit your receipt. Here’s the link if you are interested: